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Our History

A Timeline of Wilshire Boulevard Temple

1853

Solomon Carvalho, an artist with John C. Fremont’s expedition, visits Los Angeles, encouraging local Jews to form a Hebrew Benevolent Society. In July, the Society incorporates; the following year, it receives land from the city to establish the first Jewish cemetery, located near present-day Dodger Stadium.

1862

Joseph Newmark, a lay rabbi, obtains a state charter and organizes Congregation B’nai B’rith, the first Jewish synagogue in Los Angeles.

1873

With 40 families, the congregation dedicates its first            The Temple's current synagogue, approximately 1929 
building, which the Los Angeles Star describes as “the
most superior church edifice in Southern California.” Temple president Isaias W. Hellman is a civic leader who helped Harrison Gray Otis buy the Los Angeles Times and helped build the trolley cars that joined Henry Huntington’s Pacific Electric Line.

1888

With Temple membership now doubled, elements of Reform Judaism are introduced. A national economic depression coupled with the end of a real estate boom affects the congregation, which is in disarray. Nonetheless, construction begins in 1889 on a new building at Ninth & Hope on a lot purchased several years earlier.

1896

Congregation B’nai B'rith’s new Sanctuary is dedicated before a capacity crowd of Jews and Christians. The congregation adopts a Reform prayer book.

1899

Typifying the new American Reform movement, Rabbi Sigmund Hecht assumes leadership, bringing stability and strong growth to B’nai B’rith. Rabbi Hecht is instrumental in organizing Jewish federated giving. The congregation subsequently fosters the growth of several Jewish charitable agencies.

1901

Congregation president Kaspare Cohn donates 30 acres of land in East Los Angeles to replace the cemetery established nearly 50 years earlier. Over the next eight years, remains and stones are transferred from Chavez Ravine to the new Home of Peace Memorial Park. Rabbi Hecht organizes women’s and youth programs and affiliates the congregation with the Union of Hebrew Congregations.

1914

Rabbi Hecht hires recently ordained Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin to serve as his assistant. Rabbi Magnin joins Kaspare Hecht in expanding the congregation’s local interfaith outreach and civic engagement in both national and international issues.

1922

B’nai B’rith breaks ground for its third synagogue at the northeast corner of Hobart and Wilshire Boulevards.

1925

Rabbi Maxwell H. Dubin joins the clergy at the Temple to direct the Religious School and adult programs.

The Temple's second synogogue building,
approximately 1928

1929

An architectural masterpiece, the new Temple is dedicated. Its richly ornamented interior features black marble, gold inlay, fine mosaics, rare woods and Biblically-themed murals created by artist Hugo Ballin, who has been commissioned by Warner Bros. studio chief Jack Warner. The Temple’s immense Byzantine dome soon becomes a landmark in Wilshire Center and throughout Los Angeles.

1949

Rabbi Alfred Wolf joins the Temple.

1952

Under the leadership of Rabbi Wolf, the Temple develops Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu.

1969

Wilshire Boulevard Temple opens Gindling Hilltop Camp in Malibu.

1979

Rabbi Dubin dies, after 54 years at the Temple.

1981

Wilshire Boulevard Temple enters the National Register of Historic Places.

1982

Rabbi Harvey J. Fields comes to Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

1984

Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin dies, after 69 years at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Rabbi Wolf succeeds him.
The Temple's current synagogue, approximately 1950

1985

Rabbi Emeritus Wolf retires from the Temple to become founding director of the Skirball Institute on American Values of the American Jewish Committee. He is succeeded by Rabbi Fields. Rabbi Karen Fox joins the Temple in January.

1987

Rabbi Steven Z. Leder comes to Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

1992

Wilshire Boulevard Temple dedicates the Steve Breuer Conference Center in Malibu.

1995

Property for the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Campus purchased by Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

1998

The Audrey and Sydney Irmas Campus opens in West Los Angeles. The Mann Family Early Childhood Center opens at Irmas.

1999

Brawerman Elementary School West opens at the Irmas Campus.

2009

The Erika J. Glazer Early Childhood Center opens at the                   Audrey and Sydney Irmas Campus
Temple Campus. The Rose Window and spicebox
chandeliers in the Sanctuary are removed for restoration.

2011

Brawerman Elementary School East opens. Full renovation begins in the historic building, with the Magnin Sanctuary closed until the fall of 2013.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple Sanctuary View from Balcony2013

The historic Temple Campus is renamed the Erika J. Glazer Family Campus of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Read more here. Fully restored and renovated Magnin Sanctuary reopens for High Holy Days 2013, with the grand celebration of the official reopening on September 29, 2013.

2014

On July 20, the Temple broke ground for the renovation of two school buildings to meet the educational needs of our current and future children and families. Also, construction on the Karsh Social Service Center, parking pavilion for approximately 450 cars, and a rooftop sports complex began.

The inside of the current Sanctuary
following its grand reopening in 2013

2015

The parking pavilion and renovated school buildings for the Early Childhood Center and Brawerman East set to open in the fall.

2016

The Karsh Family Social Service Center is scheduled to open.

 

Wilshire Boulevard Temple

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